Creative Sound Blaster X7 - Detailed Review & Impressions
May 5, 2015 at 12:31 AM Post #496 of 3,579

earfonia

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  Is following setup works with X7?
 
i. 2.0 setup: Computer (usb) --> (usb_in) Audio-gd NBF11 (DAC RAC output) --> (line in) X7 (passive speaker out) --> speaker
 
ii. 2.1 setup: Computer (usb) --> (usb_in) Audio-gd NBF11 (DAC RAC output) --> (line in) X7 (passive speaker out) --> speaker
                                                                                                                                        ...> X7 (c/sub out) --> active sub-woofer
 
Toggling between X7,  NAD D3020,  Denon PMA50 to replace my poweramp.
 
Thanks in advance.

 
2.0, It will work that way, but I won't do that. X7 is using digital volume control, that means, whatever goes to line input will be converted to digital PCM signal, go through the digital volume, and converted back to analog.
 
You better get a pure analog power amplifier for your speaker.
 
2.1, might not work.
 
May 5, 2015 at 1:46 PM Post #497 of 3,579

Yethal

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8. To *hopefully* address issues #3-7, I thought I'd upgrade to the latest firmware...this one's a doozy.
 
First message - "Do not unplug cable during upgrading process!". Fine, no problem. I hadn't planned to and I'm not sure which cable you're referring to (power or USB, or both?), but thanks for the heads-up. 
 
Click Upgrade and 5 seconds later, I get this second message, quoting verbatim - "Please switch the device into bootloader mode by press and hold on power button before connecting DC power, and releasing only when the Blue LED is ON".
 
Firstly, what does that even mean? English please.
Secondly, I was just told NOT to disconnect the "cable" (again...Power? USB? Neither?) or I'd brick the thing, and now the Firmware Upgrade is telling me to hold down the power button BEFORE connecting DC? It's already connected and needs to be for the firmware upgrade to initialise!
Thirdly, the Blue LED is already ON...gah...where's a shotgun when you need one?
Fourthly, my Dolby Digital LED is back on...mid-upgrade. Awesome. There's that silver lining I've been looking for.
 
From an audio and convenience perspective, the X7 is great - it pairs really well with my X2 headphones, or pumping out 5.1 through a set of Logitech Z5500s (which have always sounded a bit crap connected direct to PC or Mac). On the flip-side, it's completely unreliable and is putting my other gear at risk. Not to mention, while the soundstage is large and crisp, IMHO, positional cues are far better on the MixAmp 5.8 for console gaming, so don't buy the X7 if that's your primary objective.
 

The first one is easy. You unplug the power, start holding down the power button and then connect the power back on. I did the firmware upgrade without a hitch. You'll be fine
 
As for the positional cues, did You enable surround in the Control Panel, and if You did what value did You set?
 
May 5, 2015 at 5:53 PM Post #498 of 3,579

ant1th3s1s

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  The first one is easy. You unplug the power, start holding down the power button and then connect the power back on. I did the firmware upgrade without a hitch. You'll be fine
 
As for the positional cues, did You enable surround in the Control Panel, and if You did what value did You set?


I reckon the dodgy Engrish message was not meant for public consumption - it looked more like a debugging message if the firmware upgrade went balls-up and I was never supposed to see it. I ended up rolling the dice and Ctrl-Alt-Del'ing out of the firmware upgrade without touching the power cord or power button, and the second attempt was successful. But it simply reinforces the doubts I have about the X7 in terms of reliability - too many things go wrong too easily and it's a high-risk gamble when it messes with a $1000+ headphone audio setup.
 
The firmware upgrade seems to have resolved the Dolby Digital, Bass Boost, flaky power button and random standby mode issues...for now. Everything is functioning as expected, so I'm disinclined to return the unit. I really don't want to, I just want the damn thing to work! The most concerning thing was standby kicking in randomly in-game - if that crops up again, it's curtains for the X7.
 
Positional cues is more of a head-to-head comparison between the X7 and the three MixAmps I own (first-gen wired, wireless 5.8 and A50). Regardless of the SBX settings (SS @ anywhere between 80 to 100%) or using Scout Mode, the X7 gets pantsed by the 5.8. My A50s are surpassed by the Philips X2 + Creative X7, which was my intention, but more-so by the X2s paired with the 5.8 for positional cues.
 
Using Garden Warfare as an example (I own it on PS3, PS4, XB1 and PC, so it's handy for testing), it has wonderful in-game audio with strong positional cues, as long as your health is high. Setting up a Garden Ops match on Sharkbite Shores and planting Scaredy-shrooms at the back - you can get them roughly at 4, 6 and 8 o'clock to test left-rear, rear and right-rear. From directly behind, I can almost feel the bullets going through the back of my head from a discernible distance on the 5.8. The same applies to the A50s. On the X7, it sounds a lot shallower and the direction is more difficult to pinpoint. The difference doesn't translate as cleanly to the MP modes like Gardens and Graveyards because there's a lot more noise going on, but I can definitely tell where the attack is coming from and how far away it is better on the MixAmp than the X7.
 
Having DD re-enabled seems to have improved things on the X7 over simply using SBX, but it's still clearer on the 5.8. I've also tested in a number of other games such as Destiny, Titanfall, CoD and Battlefield and the 5.8 comes out on top for positional cues. It also tosses more bass, which I like, with the X7 sounding wider yet flatter.
 
In practical gaming terms, we're talking bee's dick territory - if you own a MixAmp and decent low-impedence headphones, the step up to the X7 isn't worth the outlay, unless you're buying it for other reasons like multiple audio sources, and / or to hook up 5.1 speakers. It's definitely superior to Astro A50s, but for the average punter, the difference is likely far outweighed by the cost.
 
I'll persist with the X7 regardless, given a wired, battery-less, desktop setup is more suited to my needs. In addition to 5 consoles (HDMI > Yamaha receiver > Bravia > Optical > X7), the X7 handles my PC, Mac and Bravia audio and ties in neatly with Logitech Z5500 speakers and kicks the soundscape into the stratosphere. Connecting anything direct to the Z5500s sounds flat and lifeless by comparison, nor did it every really sound like a rich 5.1 mix when connected to a Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty on PC.
 
In summary, as an all-in-one solution, the X7 is great...as long as it's working properly! When it doesn't, things can go pear-shaped very quickly, with seemingly no rhyme nor reason. If you can't trust the product you're using to do the job you've paid for it to do, it makes it very easy to migrate to the competition.
 
May 5, 2015 at 11:34 PM Post #499 of 3,579
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Always said it, Dolby Headphone is still a bit better at positional cues than SBX, especially rear cues. What you gain from SBX, is a lot less reverb and a more linear sound presentation (Dolby headphone is a little skewed towards warmth)

I'm perfectly fine with both, though I do prefer the rear cues on DH.
 
May 6, 2015 at 4:11 AM Post #500 of 3,579

ant1th3s1s

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Any reason why Dolby Digital is detected on Xbox One but not PS4? They're both set to output DD via Optical (also tried HDMI), but the X7 only picks it up on the XB1.
 
Now that I've had a chance to test it, DD on the X7 and XB1, sans SBX, sounds better than the 5.8 for positional cues, except perhaps directly behind. 
 
May 6, 2015 at 4:18 PM Post #502 of 3,579

Yethal

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  Any reason why Dolby Digital is detected on Xbox One but not PS4? They're both set to output DD via Optical (also tried HDMI), but the X7 only picks it up on the XB1.
 
Now that I've had a chance to test it, DD on the X7 and XB1, sans SBX, sounds better than the 5.8 for positional cues, except perhaps directly behind. 

Set Format Priority to Dolby. Work fine with my PS4
 
May 6, 2015 at 7:47 PM Post #503 of 3,579

ant1th3s1s

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  Set Format Priority to Dolby. Work fine with my PS4


Already done, not working. Same for PS3, which has more granular audio settings. Both support DD 5.1 over HDMI as an output option.
 
Same also for 360, but it apparently only supports DD over optical. 
 
My guess is the X7, or the PS4 and PS3, aren't happy about piping the audio out via HDMI, through the Yamaha receiver and on to the Bravia optical port, which does seem to support 5.1 throughput. Oddly, the XB1 is perfectly fine with it. The MixAmps also seem to work fine with the same setup.
 
I was hoping to avoid it, but it looks like optical from the consoles through a TOSlink switch to the X7 might be the solution if I want DD all around. More wires...I hate wires. 
 
May 7, 2015 at 12:00 PM Post #504 of 3,579

return78

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2.0, It will work that way, but I won't do that. X7 is using digital volume control, that means, whatever goes to line input will be converted to digital PCM signal, go through the digital volume, and converted back to analog.
 
You better get a pure analog power amplifier for your speaker.
 
2.1, might not work.

 
iii. 2.1 setup: Computer (usb) --> X7 (passive speaker out) --> speaker
                                                                                            ...> X7 (c/sub out) --> active 
 
Is option 3 works? Or how's to get X7 works with passive speaker + active sub?
 
Key reason i exploring X7,  NAD D3020,  Denon PMA50 are:
- To replace poweramp that having intermittent problem.
- To try out 2 different taste of DAC. Both Audio-gd & new gear can be hooked up to PC indeed when uses with headphone independently.
 
Based on what you had mentioned, that means X7 do not support bypass or straight thru on analog input (line in). 
 
Thanks.
 
May 7, 2015 at 12:40 PM Post #505 of 3,579

Yethal

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Already done, not working. Same for PS3, which has more granular audio settings. Both support DD 5.1 over HDMI as an output option.
 
Same also for 360, but it apparently only supports DD over optical. 
 
My guess is the X7, or the PS4 and PS3, aren't happy about piping the audio out via HDMI, through the Yamaha receiver and on to the Bravia optical port, which does seem to support 5.1 throughput. Oddly, the XB1 is perfectly fine with it. The MixAmps also seem to work fine with the same setup.
 
I was hoping to avoid it, but it looks like optical from the consoles through a TOSlink switch to the X7 might be the solution if I want DD all around. More wires...I hate wires. 

That's weird. I use a pretty similar setup (PS4 > HDMI > optical out > X7) and it works perfectly fine. Try bypassing the Yamaha receiver and see if that works.
 
May 7, 2015 at 1:38 PM Post #506 of 3,579

earfonia

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iii. 2.1 setup: Computer (usb) --> X7 (passive speaker out) --> speaker
                                                                                            ...> X7 (c/sub out) --> active 
 
Is option 3 works? Or how's to get X7 works with passive speaker + active sub?

 
That's exactly one of the suggestion for improvement that I put on the first page. To feed stereo signal from USB to X7, and to get output from the speakers output as well as the subwoofer output channel. So far, what I know, we cannot do that with X7, but I'm not sure with the newer firmware that is going to be released soon.
 
Has anyone able to do that setup?  Please let us know if any of you managed to get sub out by just playing stereo file. Thanks!
 
May 7, 2015 at 10:23 PM Post #507 of 3,579

Deckardk

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I returned my x7 since I didn't feel it was ready for prime time. It took a full week to receive an rma number after it was requested. And although it was delivered to Creative on April 28th, still no refund.

This is the worst return experience I've seen from a so-called reputable company. A charge back has been initiated.

Word to the wise for would-be buyers out there.
 
May 7, 2015 at 10:48 PM Post #508 of 3,579

justnvc

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I returned my x7 since I didn't feel it was ready for prime time. It took a full week to receive an rma number after it was requested. And although it was delivered to Creative on April 28th, still no refund.

This is the worst return experience I've seen from a so-called reputable company. A charge back has been initiated.

Word to the wise for would-be buyers out there.



http://us.creative.com/support/warranty/rma/rmafaq.asp
 
"Creative Labs standard RMA turnaround time is 10-15 business days from the day it was received. If no product is received after 15 business days, please contact Customer Support for further assistance."

You agreed to these terms when you bought the product, now you're initiating a charge back within that time? As much as I can sympathise with your frustration, you're going about this the wrong way man.
 
 
May 7, 2015 at 11:40 PM Post #509 of 3,579

Deckardk

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http://us.creative.com/support/warranty/rma/rmafaq.asp

[COLOR=222D33]"Creative Labs standard RMA turnaround time is 10-15 business days from the day it was received. If no product is received after 15 business days, please [/COLOR][COLOR=315963]contact Customer Support[/COLOR][COLOR=222D33] for further assistance."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=222D33]You agreed to these terms when you bought the product, now you're initiating a charge back within that time? As much as I can sympathise with your frustration, you're going about this the wrong way man.[/COLOR]

 


^ One week to receive an rma? Not reasonable.

And just because 10-15 days is posted doesn't make it reasonable either. Never experienced anything like it.

Nothing will ever change unless consumers fight back with the only power they have. Take it like a sheep and it will continue to be crap.
 

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